Inspired by the spiritual and philosophical movements emerging in the 19th century in the United States such as transcendentalism or Emerson and Thoreau’s philosophies placing at the center of their interrogations the notion of nature, or of wilderness to be more specific, Edith Dekyndt chose to turn the naturalist thinking into the main theme of an exhibition. First considered by Emerson as a place to enter in communion with our spirit, himself being inspired by German romanticism or Alexander von Humboldt’s writings, then seen as inseparable of culture and society for Thoreau, a much more ambiguous relationship finally shapes up : the idea of a superb and grandiose nature which must be protected and preserved but solely owned and mastered by Men, as in accordance to the contemporary logic of the second half of the 19th century which consists in acquiring always new territories. In fact, the very first notions of nature preservation facing the world’s industrialization have first emerged on the American East coast.
“The Lariat” is derived not only from these theoretical influences but also from a trip the artist took to visit Texas in an effort to capture the notion of wilderness and therefore answer the following question: does this ideal still make sense in the beginning on the 21st century? In that respect, she conducted a quite anthropologic approach by visiting this high-level place for the contradictory relationship between nature and the white man. Indeed, this region is made of vast extents of natural landscapes comprising some of the last untouched wilderness however still very promising in terms of oil exploitation, but also of animal proximity, raised for rodeo or consumption whereas cowboys nurture a nearly loving relationship with them. Indeed, at the core of the project presented in the largest room of the gallery is the cowboy protagonist, which owes its mythical figure to cinema and transformed the “western” films into the apology of unexplored territory and the never-ending conquest of land and living beings.
Nature or more precisely the nature of things, has overall always been at the heart of Edith Dekyndt’s work and she has here decided to reconstruct some pieces of “Laboratory 02” (1996), a significative installation of the artist’s work, mounted in resonance with “The Lariat”. If the link between both installations exists with the elements’ selection, throughout their link to soil for example, some from which they take their origin from while others have been buried in it, Edith Dekyndt articulates a corpus of works confronting us to the inescapable transformation of the living. Interested in the perishable and transitional states while being strongly attached to respecting the inherent spontaneity of a natural phenomenon, the artist has finalized these objects by impregnating the temporal and spatial context in which the exhibition takes place.
Whereas each work is open to multiple interpretations, recreating them more than twenty years later gives them a new meaning in view of the paradigm shift we live in. “Laboratory 02” takes the living as it is incarnated in the domestic space, the kitchen, the laundry, the bodies. The vegetal and the animal, what covers our bodies and penetrates them.
The essential, sparing and naked form of the works sends back, despite their familiarity, to a spiritual essence of things and to their belonging to this life unity of which we will never quite know the essence but deplore the end.